Since antiquity, on every continent, human beings in search of attractive landscapes and economic prosperity have made a Faustian bargain with the risk of devastation by an earthquake.

Today, around half of the world’s largest cities (as many as sixty) lie in areas of major seismic activity. Many, such as Lisbon, Naples, San Francisco, Teheran, and Tokyo, have been severely damaged or destroyed by earthquakes in the past. But throughout history, starting with ancient Jericho, Rome, and Sparta, cities have proved to be extraordinarily resilient: only one, Port Royal in the Caribbean, was abandoned after an earthquake.

Earth-Shattering Events seeks to understand exactly how humans and earthquakes have interacted, not only in the short term but also in the long perspective of history. In some cases, physical devastation has been followed by decline. But in others, the political and economic reverberations of earthquake disasters have presented opportunities for renewal… (256 pages, 551.2 ROB)


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